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Synopsis

Alasdair Cochrane provides an entirely new theory of animal rights grounded in their interests as sentient beings. He applies this theory to a whole range of different and under-explored policy areas, such as genetic engineering, pet-keeping, indigenous hunting, and religious slaughter. In contrast to other proponents of animal rights, Cochrane claims that the possession of rights by animals does not mean animals must never be owned or used by human beings. He claims that because most sentient animals are not autonomous agents, they have no intrinsic interest in liberty. As such, his book argues that our obligations to animals lie in ending practices that cause their suffering and death and do not require the liberation of animals.

Cochrane’s “interest-based rights approach” weighs the moral rights of animals to determine which of their interests sufficiently imposes strict duties on humans. Sentient animals have a clear and discernable right not to suffer and have continued life, Cochrane acknowledges, but they do not have a prima facie right to liberty. Because most animals possess no interest in leading freely chosen lives, humans have no moral obligation to liberate them. Moving beyond theory to the practical aspects of applied ethics, this pragmatic volume provides much-needed perspective on the realities and responsibilities of the human-animal relationship.

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